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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

TUESDAY, 4 FEBRUARY 2014

 

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. LAUNCHES APPEAL FOR $1.27 BILLION TO HELP 3.2 MILLION PEOPLE

  • United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners have launched a revised appeal for South Sudan today calling for $1.27 billion to help 3.2 million people who continue to suffer the consequences of the conflict in the country.
  • The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said the Crisis Response Plan was revised to reflect the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and also to prioritize frontline relief and pre-positioning.
  • The Plan also intends to take necessary action now to prevent food security deteriorating later in the year.
  • The revised Crisis Response Plan will help aid organizations assist people displaced by the conflict, South Sudan refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries, host communities and others whose lives have been affected by the crisis. Nearly 60 per cent of the funding will go towards pre-positioning of vital aid supplies before the rainy season starts in June, making roads and bridges impassable.  

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION CONTINUES PATROLLING ACTIVITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Mission continues its patrolling activities across the country, including in the capital, Juba, as well as in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity States.
  • On Monday, a UN team visited Mayom County in Unity State. It reports observing many unexploded ordnances along the road, as well as in Mayom town. Assistance from the UN Mine Action Service is being sought by the authorities there to clear roads of unexploded weapons and explosives.
  • In Pibor, in Jonglei State, the Mission reports that the situation is calm. All civilians have left the Mission protection site in the town. However, 6,000 civilians still remain within the Mission site in Bor, also in Jonglei State.
  • The Mission also continues to reinforce its human rights monitoring capacity in various locations, including Juba, Bor, Malakal and Bentiu, where it has received reports of serious human rights violations.
  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that UNMISS says it is aware of reports that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) is in control of Leer, and that parts of the town have reportedly been burnt down. The Mission is unable to verify or confirm these reports at this stage.
  • In response to an earlier question about the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations’ visit to South Sudan, Nesirky noted that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations says that Hervé Ladsous met with a variety of the Mission's key interlocutors, including leaders of the anti-Government forces delegation, Taban Deng Gai and Rebecca Garang, in Addis Ababa.
  • Mr. Ladsous has urged all parties to implement all provisions of the cessation of hostilities agreement immediately, grant freedom of access in the areas they control, uphold international humanitarian law and respect the Mission's impartiality as well as the inviolability of UN facilities.
  • Asked about the looting of UNICEF backpacks, the Spokesperson said that UNICEF and the UN system as a whole are extremely concerned about the looting and misuse of all humanitarian and development supplies by combatants. He reiterated that all looting is unacceptable.
  • He noted that, in vulnerable locations, where normal security precautions are not sufficient, UNICEF is working with the UN Mission in South Sudan to place supplies in mobile storage units that have been set up within UNMISS compounds and are therefore in more secure locations.

C.A.R.: FOOD STOCKS RUN LOW IN BANGUI -- WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) says that food stocks are running low in the Central African Republic, with supplies for just one week available in Bangui. The World Food Programme is now preparing to start airlifting food from Douala in Cameroon – although the cost of transporting food by air is five times more expensive than transportation by road. 
  • A plane would fly a daily rotation to Bangui with the capacity to transport up to 100 metric tonnes every time. 
  • The World Food Programme also says that the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) has sent another armed escort to the border between Central African Republic and Cameroon, which was expected to reach the border by today.  There are 43 trucks carrying WFP food blocked at the border because of insecurity.
  • Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners are setting up temporary classrooms for over 20,000 displaced children to enable them to return to school.  Most of the classrooms are in Bangui with some in the northwest of the country. 
  • And the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the humanitarian appeal for the Central African Republic is still underfunded, with just 11 per cent of the US$551 million asked for. And that 11 per cent comes out at US$60 million so far.

U.N. FOOD ARM TRANSPORTS FOOD TO FEED SOME 30,000 DISPLACED PEOPLE IN SYRIA

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) started an airlift today from Iraq to transport enough food to feed close to 30,000 displaced people for a month in northeast Syria. The airlift comes amid growing problems in reaching people, especially in conflict and besieged areas.
  • It is the second such airlift from Erbil in Iraq, to people who would otherwise be cut off from humanitarian assistance.
  • The first World Food Programme-chartered flight landed at Qamishli airport with 40 metric tonnes of food. A total of 10 flights will deliver more than 400 metric tonnes of food, as well as other items – mainly clothing, detergent and soap – for UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration.
  • In response to questions about whether any UN personnel have been released from detention, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations is trying to secure the release of all our personnel as soon as possible. He confirmed that, in the last few days, two staff have been safely released out of 21 being held.
  • Asked whether the Syrian Government asked for the dismissal of Nasser al-Kidwa, the Spokesperson said that Mr. al-Kidwa decided to leave his position on his own volition and was not fired. The decision to accept Mr. al-Kidwa’s resignation was in response to his own request and was not due to any positions taken by any Member State.
  • Asked about Jeffrey Feltman’s role in the Geneva II talks, Nesirky said he was there in his role as Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi is the senior official at the talks.
  • Asked about the date for the resumption of the talks, the Spokesperson reiterated the expectation by the Secretary-General and Mr. Brahimi that the parties will show up for talks on 10 February.

YEMEN: NO STABILITY WHEN PEOPLE LIVE BELOW POVERTY LINE, SAYS U.N. COORDINATOR

  • On Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said today that there can be no stability in the country if half of its people wake up hungry every day and are living below the poverty line.
  • He said that more than half of the people of Yemen needed some kind of humanitarian assistance. Some 13 million people out of approximately 25 million do not have access to safe drinking water. Yemen has the second-highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world after Afghanistan.
  • The humanitarian appeal for 2014 is $592 million, and funds from donors are urgently needed.

U.A.E. TO HOST CLIMATE MEETING IN MAY IN LEAD-UP TO SECRETARY-GENERAL’S CLIMATE SUMMIT

  • In a readout issued on Monday night, the Secretary-General welcomed the United Arab Emirates’ offer to host a high-level meeting on climate change from 4-5 May in Abu Dhabi.
  • The meeting aims to encourage announcements of greater action and ambition by world leaders at the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September.
  • The May meeting will be called the “Abu Dhabi Ascent,” and will bring Ministers as well as business, finance, and civil society leaders together to develop a range of proposals for action so that partnerships can be broadened to deliver concrete action at the Summit in September. As you know that is on 23 September.

CYPRUS: LEADERS COMMITTED TO CONTINUE NEGOTIATIONS, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL

  • In response to questions about the Secretary-General’s remarks on the Cyprus talks that he made at a press conference in Munich, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General’s remarks, in an answer to a journalist's question on the Cyprus talks, alluded to the political change in the Republic of Cyprus last spring and the immediate impact of the economic crisis at that time, which had understandably required President Anastasiades’ full attention. This meant that the President’s stated desire to resume the talks at that stage was deferred. The UN had clearly expressed its understanding of these circumstances.
  • Importantly, the Secretary-General in these same remarks stressed that both leaders were committed to continue the negotiations and had agreed to have a joint communiqué before they resumed the talks. He reiterated the UN’s continuing and full support of the leaders in this effort.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTTS MICHAEL O’NEILL ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR AT U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Michael O’Neill of the United Kingdom as Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 
  • Mr. O’Neill will replace Sigrid Kaag, who has taken up her new appointment as Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations
  • Mr. O’Neill is currently serving as Senior Foreign Office Representative to the Gulf Strategy Group in the UK Cabinet Office. 

SECRETARY-GENERAL MET IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MUNICH

  • Asked about the Secretary-General’s recent discussions with Iranian officials, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General met the Iranian Foreign Minister in Munich over the weekend and discussed Syria and the Iranian nuclear programme.